Ketchup packets can’t catch up to pandemic demand

Who could have guessed two years ago that toilet paper and ketchup packets would become the new currency?

Well, it’s not Mad Max quite yet regarding those supplies — thankfully, the toilet paper hoarding has abated from its pandemic highs — but those little condiment packets have been in high demand, and suppliers apparently can’t…well, catch up. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that the issue is the increased take-out that eateries have been providing to stay afloat since the lockdowns began, and the fact that ketchup bottles have been removed from tables at restaurants that are open, to reduce potential COVID-19 spread, further squeezing supplies of the individual condiment packets.  Packet prices are up 13% since January 2020, the paper reports, and stockpiles are dwindling.

That results in significant costs for restaurants. For example, fast food seafood chain Long John Silver’s has reported some $500,000 in extra ketchup-related costs.

To cope, WSJ notes that restaurant managers are doling out ketchup in individual cups, and even raiding big-box stores like Costco to fill the demand.